Saving the Environment: The Great People’s Initiative in South Asia

Within the vastness of the galaxy, humankind makes their home on planet Earth, which is both a special and breathtakingly beautiful place. It is as essential as a beating heart to nurture this precious sanctuary that cradles us like a loving embrace. Global environmental difficulties have been increasing at an alarming rate in recent years, posing substantial hazards to both the planet and its population. It is necessary to make concentrated efforts on a worldwide basis to guarantee the health and safety of the inhabitants of Earth. The G20 Summit is like a grand gathering of the world’s most influential actors, coming together like a symphony of power and influence. They are united under a common purpose, the Great People’s Initiative, which shines like a beacon of hope amidst the vast ocean of global challenges. The Eastern Himalayas will undergo significant transformations because of this program, which will involve the planting of trees and the reduction of environmental hazards.

The Great People’s Initiative

The Great People’s Forest Initiative, which was just inaugurated in New Delhi, has set an ambitious target of planting one billion trees, and repairing one million hectares of forest area across South Asia. This programme is an urgent reaction to the common issues of climate change and biodiversity loss, rallying local conservationists to work together to protect the region. This effort, inspired by India’s historic G20 presidency, is a historic partnership spanning Northeast India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

The Great People’s Forest in the Eastern Himalayas is a remarkable conservation and restoration endeavour made possible by a collaboration between Conservation International of Washington, DC, and the Balipara Foundation of Assam, India. The effort intends to plant one billion trees and safeguard and repair one million hectares of land across the Eastern Himalayas, from the mountains to the mangroves, with a US$1 billion funding goal. This endeavor indirectly helps one billion individuals whose well-being is dependent on this interwoven environment.

Implementing partners from various parts of the Eastern Himalayas are eagerly coming forward, equipped with well-defined plans for rapid extension of their conservation programmes. Their common purpose is to protect and revitalize these priceless woods, with a firm commitment to the well-being of both humankind and the world. This visionary project’s initial implementation partners include: The Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, The Balipara Foundation, The Energy and Resources Institute, Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation, Bhutan Ecological Society, Green Hub, and Friendship NGO.

They begin on a mission that emphasises both environmental preservation and the well-being of local populations. They hope to create a future that is harmonious and sustainable for everybody by taking a pro-nature and pro-economy stance.

Why is this so significant?

Along with the Ganges Basin, the Eastern Himalayan area serves as an important worldwide center for the preservation of natural variety. The glaciers, mountains, and mangroves that may be found in this region are extremely important to the economy of the entire planet. In the time leading up to the launch of this programme, environmental concerns in the area received an insufficient amount of attention. However, nations in the area are also starting on large connectivity and industrialization initiatives, which raises the possibility of a conflict between the promotion of growth and the protection of the environment. 

The Great People’s Initiative provides a one-of-a-kind solution for the future, which, if successfully implemented, might bring about a balance between economic growth and the preservation of the natural environment. In addition, despite its high population density, this area is home to several of Earth’s most unique and endangered animal and plant species. As a result, it makes a compelling case for striking a careful balance between the growth of humanity and the preservation of nature.

Secondly, the Eastern Himalayan region is essential to the health of humankind since it contains highly inhabited areas that are directly dependent on the region’s resources for their means of subsistence. This number is close to one billion people. Even though this crucial reliance exists, there has been a lack of worldwide acknowledgement of the value of the region and investments in its preservation. Therefore, it is vital that immediate attention be paid to increasing awareness and take fast action, particularly considering the rising issues that are being faced by the region.

Thirdly, the Eastern Himalayan area is vulnerable to the negative consequences that climate change and environmental degradation may have. Further aggravating climate-related issues is the annual clearance of a sizeable 100,000 hectares (or about 250,000 acres) of forestland. A whopping 1.5 million individuals have been evacuated as a direct result of extreme weather occurrences that have been related to climate change. In addition, forecasts show that by the year 2050, as much as one-third of the region’s glaciers might disappear because of climate change. This could have devastating repercussions for the populations that live in the valleys and along the rivers downstream. When the sensitivity of the region is considered, it highlights how urgent it is to address environmental concerns and put mitigation measures into effect.

Fourthly, this effort illustrates global environmental responsibility by recognizing the worldwide relevance of the Eastern Himalayan area and committing to protect its natural resources. It highlights the urgent need to invest in the protection and restoration of important ecosystems by fostering collaboration between local conservationists and partners from across the world. These ecosystems have an effect not only on the health of the people living in the region but also on the environment on a more global scale.

Lastly, this effort also serves as an important example for cooperative forums to place a priority on the conservation of the environment. This highlights how crucial it is to include climate change and environmental protection as recurrent topics on the agendas of global summits such as the G20. This programme has the potential to inspire future collaborative initiatives and urge proactive steps to safeguard the environment if it is carried out in this manner.

To summarize, the world is currently undergoing significant shifts in politics and economics, which have diminished the emphasis on environmental initiatives. Therefore, the initiative launched from the G20 platform serves as a compelling wake-up call for nations worldwide. It highlights the critical importance of safeguarding people’s well-being, preventing conflicts, mitigating pollution, and averting environmental hazards. Additionally, this initiative sets a precedent for environmental safety in the Eastern Himalayan countries, offering a valuable model for future cooperative endeavors in addressing global environmental challenges.

[A. J. T. Johnsingh, WWF-India and NCF, via Wikimedia Commons]

*S. M. Saifee Islam is a Research Analyst at the Center for Bangladesh and Global Affairs (CBGA), Dhaka, Bangladesh. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect TGP’s editorial stance.

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